Producing a combined 11 first-team All-Americans, Stanford men’s and women’s track and field team competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships at Texas A&M on Friday and Saturday.
At the completion of the two-day event, the men’s team tied for 21st place with 10 points while the women placed eighth with 24 points. The men and women combined for a total of 34 points, which is their most since scoring 40 points in 2014. Since 1996, the men’s and women’s team have combined to produce 24 top-five distance medley relay (DMR) teams at the NCAA championships with the most recent two additions occurring Friday night.
The women’s DMR team, composed of graduate student Vanessa Fraser, junior Missy Mongiovi, senior Elise Cranny and sophomore Christina Aragon, finished with a time of 10:52.02, placing the Cardinal second behind Oregon’s time of 10:51.99.
At the start of the final leg, Aragon tucked in behind Oregon’s Lilli Burdon until the final straightaway when Aragon closed in on Burdon but was ultimately held off in a race that came down to the wire.
In last year’s NCAA Indoor Championship distance medley relay, the women’s team, anchored by Cranny at the time, finished with a similar result as they placed second by 0.02 seconds to Colorado. Since Cranny qualified for the finals in the mile event only three hours earlier on Friday, the coaches decided to have Cranny run the 800 meter leg instead of the anchor leg and task Aragon with anchoring the relay.
“Being on the anchor, there is always some added pressure,” said Cranny, who has anchored the DMR at the last two NCAA Indoor Championships. “She ran it amazing. She ran it so calm and composed.”
The women’s time of 10:52.02 marks a new school record and the fifth fastest time in NCAA Championship history.
Fraser, who concluded her final indoor season as a Cardinal this weekend, said, “We can’t get too caught up in missing first place again by a few hundredths of a second again because we’ve shown a lot of consistency over the years and that’s something we can be really proud of that our teammates before us have built and we get to carry on. I know that it will continue.”
The men’s DMR team, which included fifth-year Sean McGorty, sophomore Julian Body, freshman Brandon McGorty and junior Grant Fisher, finished fourth with a time of 9:31.95. The Cardinal stayed towards the front of the pack throughout the relay, but Virginia Tech’s Neil Gourley entered the final leg with a sizable gap and maintained the lead to win the event in 9:30.76.
Fisher, who anchored for the Cardinal, closed in on Gourley along with Oregon’s James West and Notre Dame’s Yared Nuguse. In the final straightaway, Gourley held off the competition as Fisher finished within strides of West and Nuguse.
“I think I made a little tactical error on hanging back too long,” said Fisher, the reigning outdoor 5,000 meter champion. “I realized a little too late that I was going to have to go for it myself… I was satisfied to some extent with the DMR, but we definitely want more than that and I definitely could have given a little bit smarter decisions out there to my team.”
Senior Steven Fahy also competed on Friday, finishing ninth in the 5,000 meters with a time of 14:17.51. Reigning NCAA cross country champion Justyn Knight from Syracuse won the event with a time of 14:14.47.
In the women’s shot put, senior Lena Giger threw 17.14 meters to finish sixth, an impressive improvement from last year’s 17th place finish at the outdoor championships. Giger, who has thrown 17.78 meters this season, finished within 10 inches of second place.
“It was a good stepping stone from nationals last year,” Giger said. “But the goals were a little higher, especially because the distances above me weren’t way out there.”
Saturday’s competition featured several top-eight finishes for the Cardinal. On the men’s side, Fisher placed fourth in the 3,000 meter race. The field featured several top runners from the cross-country season, including Knight, who finished second, and first-place finisher Andy Trouard from Northern Arizona University, the reigning NCAA cross country team champions.
On the women’s side, senior Olivia Baker finished eighth in the 800 meters and fifth-year Valarie Allman threw 21.17 meters in the weight throw to finish eighth.
Several women from Friday’s DMR team raced again on Saturday. In the women’s mile, Cranny ran 4:34.48 to finish fourth, while Fraser and Aragon finished fourth and seventh, respectively, in the 3,000 meters.
Sophomore Fiona O’Keefe also ran the 3,000 meters and finished 10th after falling during the race. Despite the blood and scrapes she endured as a result of falling, O’Keefe finished with an impressive time of 9:10.54.
With the indoor season concluded, the men’s and women’s track and field team will compete outdoors starting later this month.
Contact Alejandro Salinas at asalinas ‘at’ stanford.edu.